My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

Now the summer begins

Jessica displays her raspberry pie

Last Friday marked the end of my summer research term. For reasons I don't entirely understand and don't need to understand, Jessica made a pie to celebrate the milestone. It was raspberry (my favourite fruit) and, more importantly, it was delicious. This summer feels like it has gone by extremely quickly, and I'm not yet eagerly anticipating school. I have two weeks off now, returning early on August 29 to begin the intense final year of my concurrent education degree. My schedule does not seem all that bad, as far as classes go, but I'm not sure what the workload will be like—I hear it's heavy but not difficult.

As far as my research goes, I can't help but compare this summer to last summer. Overall, I was not as interested in my project this time around—it's the same project, so it is no longer fresh. Working on it on a full-time basis for 16 weeks was intense. This year was also quieter around the office; Jessica was not around as much, and Rachael had a research project, but it only lasted eight weeks. Aaron came in pretty consistently several days a week, despite not being on any kind of schedule. Aaron and I have been working our way through the Portal 2 co-op levels. It's hilarious. A typical level involves me dying, followed by Aaron going, "Oops, wrong portal", and then Aaron dying because I have terrible timing. The levels themselves are really well-designed, though, and I love some of the solutions to the puzzles. The beauty behind the physics engine is a lot more obvious when you can watch your partner go flying through the air (to his death).

This summer my supervisor and I collaborated to write a paper based on my research! Aside from my honours thesis (which is now available in the math section), I have very little experience writing about mathematics for an audience. This was the most interesting part of my research, and I really enjoyed the opportunity. We are polishing up the paper now, and then my supervisor plans to submit it to a few journals. I have no idea if it will be accepted for publication, but it was fun to write anyway.

Using SHARCNET was once again very cool, although the clusters I used this year gave me more headaches. I have begun using Git for managing my own coding projects (including this site), and SHARCNET's clusters have Git installed. So I've put all the code into a Git repo, and you can view it on GitHub.

I'm experiencing no small amount of trepidation regarding student-teaching this year. However, this summer has reaffirmed my desire to become a high school teacher. I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing research! As a thank-you to my supervisor, I gave him a signed print of this xkcd comic.

With two weeks off, what do I plan to do? Read, of course! And get my life in a semblance of order before school starts—that is, I want to tidy up my room and get some other projects finished, started, or just kicked into gear. I have several blog posts I want to write, and some improvements I want to make to my site. Although I intend to drive myself in these next two weeks, my priority goals are relaxation and reading, in that order. All too soon, university will loom again. I know because they took my money last week.